Jacob Kirksey of UC Santa Barbara’s Gevirtz School has been awarded a 2017 National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) Fellowship based on his demonstrated potential to contribute to strengthening the vitality of the U.S. science and engineering enterprise. This year, the NSF received over 13,000 applications and selected just 2,000 students nation-wide to receive GRFP awards, including 19 UCSB students. The fellowship includes a stipend and professional development opportunities.
Kirksey’s research project will examine and illustrate which of the three information-processing skill sets – literacy, numeracy, and problem solving – are most important for attaining a STEM degree and STEM career for people with disabilities. Preparation for STEM fields is especially relevant given the unique circumstances people with disabilities have when pursuing majors and careers. This project could draw attention to a new paradigm for preparing people with disabilities to succeed in STEM: skill development.
Jacob Kirksey is a doctoral student with research interests in the economics of education. His advisor is Dr. Michael Gottfried in the Policy, Leadership and Research Methods focus in the Department of Education. Jacob received his B.A. in economics and education from Colorado College. Professionally, Jacob has worked for two nonprofit organizations, taught K-12 theater in schools, and designed his own after school programs. Through these positions, he has designed several workshops for teachers, parents and students, focusing on issues related to school engagement. He also currently teaches a drama class at a nonprofit organization in Santa Barbara. Currently, Jacob is working on research projects related to absenteeism, suspension rates, and special education policy. His interests also include teacher education and preparation in STEM fields and teacher agency in the policy landscape.